Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Favorite Chicken Salad

This morning, Paul woke up to head into work a little earlier to prepare for a design review. As he stumbled about our dark room getting himself dressed and ready, he woke up the sleeping baby. He apologetically brought her to me to feed, comfort, and rock back to sleep. I was pretty out of it and do not really remember much since both Emma and I fell back to sleep pretty quickly. I was awaken again about an hour later to find Matthew practically sitting on top of my head while shoving his fingers into Baby Emma's tiny mouth.

"What the heck are you doing, Matthew?!?!"

I must have scared him, because he jumped back pretty suddenly. However, he recovered quickly enough to inform me with a voice full of alarm and urgency: "Oh no Mommy! Baby Emma - she has no teeth!! They fell out! We need to find her teeth!"

No teeth yet in there! Thank Goodness - I enjoy the toothless baby smiles!

In some ways, this new realization that Baby Emma is unable to chew her food might help prevent Matthew from feeding Emma bits and pieces of his crackers, sandwiches, and carrot sticks as I have caught him doing in the past. Or forkfuls of this chicken salad. While I love the simplicity, freshness, and ease of this recipe, Matthew will not touch it with a ten foot pole. When I placed it in front of him, he looked at me as if I had just asked him to eat cat food. Like the fine older brother he is, he absolutely insisted that Emma try it first in order to ensure that it was in fact palatable and that I was not trying to poison him. When that didn't happen (for beyond obvious reasons), we gave him the choice of eating his dinner or going to bed early. He immediately hopped off his chair, headed upstairs, and tucked himself into bed. He is remarkably stubborn.

Despite Matthew's glowing endorsement of this recipe, I insist that you try it because it is absolutely delicious. This is adapted from a popular chicken salad recipe from Whole Foods which I have never ever tried at the store. However, I understand why it is so popular. It is one of those great no-fuss recipes that is a perfect way to use leftover chicken and can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. It's also nice enough to serve at a luncheon, baptismal party, or bridal shower on tiny croissants. On this particular occasion, we used chopped leftover barbecued turkey and it was delectable. If you do not have grapes on hand (a shame because they really do make the recipe), some plumped dried cranberries would be a good substitute.

Sonoma Chicken Salad
adapted slightly from Whole Foods Market

For the Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Salad:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Dice the chicken into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing. This can be made up to two days ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve atop a bed of lettuce, a sliced croissant, or toasted sourdough bread.

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